Monday, December 06, 2004

The bright lights of Nagoya seduce me

Yesterday saw the arrival of the dreaded Japanese Proficiency Test. I applied to do the level 4 exam (the lowest level) in August, and I've been dreading it ever since. The point of going for the exam was to give myself something to aim for in the hope that I would learn more Japanese. In the end though it just got me really stressed and made me feel really stupid! I thought when I came to Japan that studying Japanese would be a lot easier, but if anything having to deal with so many new words can be overwhelming. Anyway, I think I failed the test, but I'm not too bothered about it because I know that I have definitely improved my Nihongo since arriving here. I've also decided that the best way to learn Japanese is to combine it with toast, so from next week I'm setting up a study group in Tom's toast restaurant. Mmmm....toast.

The trip to Nagoya (where the test was being held) was great fun though - I loved being in a big city again! It was great having a look round all the big shops, particularly the foreign food shop. I never realised there were so many things I missed! Just everyday stuff like Dairy Milk chocolate, pesto sauce, taco shells, mozzarella cheese.....I was particularly excited by the Christmas puddings, but at five pounds each they weren't cheap!

The youth hostel we stayed in was like a blast from the past - curfew and lights out at 10pm, renting sheets from the front desk, separate floors for men and women... I was almost expecting them to bring out Devon scones with lashings of ginger beer for tea. Still, at 2,200 yen it was pretty damn cheap for Japan, so I can't complain.

Before the inevitable mad rush for the bus and the long trip back to good old Fukui we stopped off in a fantastic tapas bar called La Piedra, where I almost cried when I found out they had Guinness on tap. Wonderful. The food was delicious too, although I'm not sure about the menu descriptions - Laura ordered a tomato and mozzarella salad, thinking, with good reason I believe, that it was vegetarian. You should have seen the look on her face when it arrived draped in ham. Only in Japan. Still, the trials and tribulations of being a vegetarian in the land of the rising sun is a story for another day...

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